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Rosie Right October 2007

Reader Feedback

From Cinda Caiella came the following note:

"Lately, I have noticed a disturbing misuse of grammar. I first heard this on that bastion of correctness-the TV news. Now that I am listening for it - it's all over.

"When someone wants to emphasize something, he or she forgets about the cases of adjectives and uses more as an all-purpose modifier. For example, blah-blah would be a lot more simple instead of saying blah-blah would be simpler.

"I've heard it with more crazy, more quick, etc. ... This sounds more pompous and important than saying: crazier, quicker. I don't know yet how they convey simplest, craziest, etc. cases."

Rosie's reaction to this complaint is that she feels the same way. The problem is that apparently comparatives are not emphasized in English classes the way they were when she was in school. When someone says more simple it grates on Rosie's ear. It would be nice if those who use English would look the comparatives up in the dictionary. If you look in the Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, you will see clearly that one should say simple, simpler, simplest.

Another sad complaint came from a friend who is a reporter who covered the straw presidential poll in Iowa. Apparently, the pollsters said that they were out in the Midwest pulsing the voters. This means in plain language "finding out what the voters are thinking." Rosie's friend sent it to her as another example of a language habit he hates: verbalization of nouns - in this case not only verbalization but condensation because the users, of course, meant "taking the pulse of the voters." Rosie occasionally parts company with this friend because she does not find all verbalization loathsome. It comes down to euphony. Those of us who use words want them to sound pleasant - or at least appropriate to the listener/reader. When they do not, we lose our audience. However, euphony is in the ear of the listener. Perhaps pulsing sounds fine to some people, but Rosie and her friend reserve the right to grimace when we hear it.

From Michael Quinion's World Wide Words: A reader contributed this headline from Melbourne, Australia's, The Age newspaper: "George W. Bush keeps mum on cocaine." Quinion's response: "I hope the dear lady appreciates his efforts."

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), fax (355-9089), letter 1118 W. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23220) or e-mail (rright@richmond.infi.net)

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